Ojai Renaissance & Pirate Faire

The golden age of piracy – generally defined as taking place in the Caribbean during the 16th through 18th centuries – has been glamorized by American popular culture perhaps more than any other historical era, at least recently. Peglegs, parrots, and planks are all an embedded part of our consciousness.

There are even pirate jokes. What’s a pirate’s favorite chemical element? Arrrrgon, of course – most of the answers are predictable. But if one were to ask what a pirate’s favorite town would be, the answer would surprise almost everyone: Ojai.

The Ojai Pirate Faire, taking place over two consecutive weekends this month, will celebrate all things piratical, from rum to cutlasses and from buxom lasses : probably back to rum. This September’s Faire, Ojai’s 17th annual pirate invasion, will include all of the above plus a myriad of other activities and entertainments, including something tantalizingly described in the event program as a “Bawdy Juggler.” And there will also be belly dancers, just in case the juggling isn’t sufficiently bawdy.

Not to suggest that the Faire is for adults only; quite the contrary. While there are plenty of entertainments aimed at mature pirates, the festival is designed to be fun for everyone, regardless of age or number of limbs. In the words of Cap’n Dirty Jack, the Faire’s official online spokesman, “We be hav’n games, parade, treasure hunts, & stages ‘o entertainment, shows, merchants sell’n plunder, food ‘n grog ‘n plenty fer the young ‘uns to see and do.”

While Cap’n Dirty Jack may not be much of a pirate copy editor, the event really has been carefully planned to provide as much fun as possible. Part of the attraction of films such as 2003’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and its two sequels is the spectacle: everyone enjoys the costumes, the swords, and the colorful language. To enhance the overall visual impact of the event, Queen Elizabeth I’s court will be circulating in full costume throughout the four days of the Faire, and merchants are also required to dress in their period best.

Those merchants and service providers, clothes aside, have also been chosen carefully; all kinds of medieval and Renaissance-inspired art will be available on display and for sale, along with other goods and services one might expect to find at a Renaissance fair. Food and beverages, including rum, will be available at a tavern, and all the usual amenities such as restrooms and handicapped parking will be available.

The Ojai Pirate Faire, therefore, has everything a weekend pirate could possibly need. In the immortal words of Cap’n Dirty Jack, “Don’t miss der largest pirate faire on der West Coast or we come look’n fer ya . . . harrrr.”

The Ojai Pirate Faire takes place on September 20-21 and 27-28, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Lake Casitas in Ojai. For more information, visit the Ojai Pirate Faire on the Web or email goldcoastfestivals@gmail.com.


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